"A lighthearted travel companion for families planning to take a bite out of the Big Apple."– Kirkus Reviews
The Middle Ages beckon in the second installment of this YA time-travel series.
Peri, Henry, and Max have learned a few things since their trip to 19th-century New York City. Unfortunately, the precautions they’ve taken against inadvertent time travel fail, and they suddenly find themselves in a forest during the Middle Ages. This time, Max is unfamiliar with the object that triggered their trip to the past, making their return to the present much more challenging. As the three children attempt to locate the object, they stumble across travelers whose stories provide insight into their exact location in time. A peasant with a pig, Barlow, offers a story of King Richard the Lionheart. A pretty young maiden, Emily, relates a sad tale of a lady doomed to an arranged marriage. A brave page, Jack, offers a vision of glory involving knights and dragons. Even Merlin makes an appearance as a fumbling wizard. Things grow more complicated, however, when Max vanishes. Without Max and the unknown object, they’ll never make it home. Peri and Henry bide their time at a medieval castle and even help their new friends while knights search for their lost sibling. Roche (Making It Home, 2015, etc.) capitalizes on a successful formula from her first novel: likable protagonists, an entertaining story, and historical facts presented in an accessible and age-appropriate way. The setting is a superb choice. While Roche delivers fairy-tale aspects such as dragons and knights that are sure to engage her audience, she also incorporates factual information, such as the definition of a feudal society or the ransom of King Richard. Roche also addresses real-world problems as Peri and Henry continue to reconcile their new relationship as stepsiblings. They bicker incessantly over events in the past and present, exemplifying the potential challenges of blending two families. In addition to the narrative, Roche again provides an appendix packed with activities and projects related to the Middle Ages, including trivia, recipes, and a 3,000-year-old game.
A successful sequel that delivers appealing time travelers thrust into a society filled with knights and dragons.
Roche’s precocious young characters find themselves transported to 19th-century New York City in her debut middle-grade book.
Fourteen-year-old Peregrine “Peri” Gasper enjoys history, reading, and browsing her father’s dusty antiques store. She’s less enthused about her two younger stepbrothers, Henry and Max. The newly formed family’s quiet afternoon at the antiques store is interrupted when Max inadvertently places a set of antique keys on a magical book. The three children travel through time, landing on a boat entering New York Harbor in 1892. Thus begins an incredible adventure as the siblings struggle to figure out where they are and how to get back home. They travel to different times and places in New York City, giving them a firsthand look at the plight of immigrants and the struggles of urban poverty. Peri, Henry, and Max soon realize that the key to returning home may literally be the antique keys from the shop. Each key they locate leads to a new person, a new story, and an opportunity to help others while learning some history. Along the way, the children meet many historical figures—Jacob Riis, Theodore Roosevelt, and little Annie Moore, the first immigrant to pass through the doors of Ellis Island. Roche takes readers on a remarkable journey, offering an entertaining, informative glimpse into the past. Locations such as the Lower East Side tenements come to life through Roche’s evocative writing; rats the size of dogs scurry across the road as vendors sell pickled cucumbers and sauerkraut, and neighbors ask after each other in multiple languages and dialects. Roche also does a masterful job tackling issues children may face in modern times. In the course of solving historical problems, her young protagonists must also deal with emotions and questions that arise from divorce and their blended family. The historic photographs and illustrations that accompany the text are a wonderful addition, and Roche also offers supplementary games, activities, and recipes readers can use to further engage with the narrative.
An educational, highly enjoyable read that kicks off a promising new series.
A fun guide helps kids discover what makes New York City special.
For families planning to travel to New York or kids who have always wanted to see the Big Apple, Roche’s debut is a solid introduction to the city. Right away it’s clear that this is no staid travel guide; what do Einstein’s eyeballs and George Washington’s tooth have to do with NYC? Readers will find out as they quickly move from one subway stop to the next on this whirlwind tour. Destinations include all the best-known sights: the Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, just-built One World Trade Center, and, saving the best for last, FAO Schwarz (which closed in July). Be sure to take this book along for tips on what to see and do at each location. The guide ventures beyond the most famous tourist stops to lesser-known attractions, such as the Tenement Museum and Merchant’s House. Roche keeps the text lively and fills the pages with intriguing trivia, quizzes, maps, color photographs, and sketches. The formatting, which resembles a scrapbook more than a guidebook, is engaging, though sometimes the text is cut off midsentence, leaving readers hanging. Minor formatting errors aside, it’s clear that Roche has done her research, and she translates all these facts into relatable information. Who knew that over 800 languages are spoken in New York? You’d need more than a half-hour just to say “hello” in all of them. Descriptions are often chuckle-worthy: “If you think your grandparents are old, wait until you learn about quasars.” A glossary at the end defines some difficult words, but other unfamiliar terms—burlesque, art deco, etc.—could have used additional explanation. Although packed with information, the guide doesn’t delve too deeply into any subject. A short bibliography of picture books and early readers comes at the end, but more nonfiction suggestions would have been helpful for in-depth exploration after piquing reader interest.
A lighthearted travel companion for families planning to take a bite out of the Big Apple.